Additive Manufacturing from Powders Institute
"Engineering at the Interfaces"
Additive manufacturing (AM) is revolutionizing manufacturing in conventional industries and will undoubtedly enable applications that have not yet been conceived. AM is the collective name used to describe high energy, layer-by-layer processes. Subsets of AM include cold spray, stereolithographic (SLA) 3D printing, powder bed fusion (e.g. selective laser melting - SLM), fused deposition modeling (FDM), binder jetting, and direct energy deposition. Many of these processes rely on interacting with a metal powder including cold spray, metal printing (both SLM and binder jet printing), and SLA of ceramic filled resins.
SLM is a relatively mature additive manufacturing technology where a bed of metallic powder is melted by a laser or electron beam that moves along a predetermined path to build a metal part in a layer by layer process. Cold spray is less mature and involves depositing oxide-free metal powder in a supersonic gas stream to an existing part or substrate while avoiding the generation of residual stresses. Cold spray is most often used to repair specialized metal components that are cost-prohibitive to replace. SLA of ceramic filled resins remain relatively uncharted.
Additive approaches are finding their place in the general toolbox of industrial manufacturing. Still, there remain materials and applications that are dominated by casting or subtractive technologies which focus on bulk materials in which interfaces play a nominal role in the ultimate part. Instead, with the complexity and layer-by-layer approach of additive, interfaces abound! Continued success of powder-based additive manufacturing depends to a great extent on addressing the following grand standing challenge: Can the additional interfaces created with the additive process be transformed from a weakness into a strength?
Understanding and exploiting interfaces in AM can be broken down into three thematic branches including:
Materials Engineering of the Interfaces – including understanding powder qualities of morphologies and interfaces, process-material interactions, limitations of new material families
Process Control at the Interface of Hardware and Materials – including equipment and processing redesign for superior process-structure-property relationships.
Advanced Manufacturing at the Interface of Hardware and Software - including process and control optimization, manufacturing efficiency, machine learning, and IoT
These three branches are directly addressed by the NU Powder-based Additive Manufacturing Institute consisting of 11 faculty members and staff with backgrounds in manufacturing, industrial engineering, material science, mechanics and machine design. Our goal is to improve the efficiency of powder-based additive manufacturing by addressing the interrelated manufacturing, materials, control and economic challenges through scientifically based studies in a collaborative environment.
Additive manufacturing is an enabling technology with great potential. Nevertheless, we face hard questions related to this technology from a materials, hardware, and manufacturing perspective. Central to this effort is answering whether or not additive manufacturing can be transformed into an efficient platform for manufacturing new materials and new structures with the performance and cost metrics required to displace conventional manufacturing. For performance metrics, we care about mechanical, thermal, and electromagnetic properties. How can the residual stresses, porosity, and interparticle adhesion be tuned to improve both the strength and ductility of the parts? For cost metrics, we care about the life cycle of additively manufactured parts including energy consumption and waste powder concerns. Are the current AM tools built to address the improvements necessary in material and economic aspects of the technology? The NU Powder-based Additive Manufacturing Institute is formed to answer these key questions through materials, process control, and advanced manufacturing teams. The deliberate overlap in these identified areas affords the collaboration between the investigators required to overcome key cross-disciplinary technical challenges that remain in the field.
The materials team will address the core questions related to process-property relationships in additive manufacturing by investigating the physics, metallurgy and mechanics of the technology; staring from the individual powder particles ending with the mechanical usability of the end product.
The process control team will probe new tools and hardware designs that deliver next generation control over material microstructures and use raw materials optimally.
The manufacturing team will implement process metrology, in-situ sensor monitoring and data analytics to investigate parameter optimization and inform economic decision making.
Interested in learning more or working with our team? Send us a quick note.